So with most the country flooded or burning I figured I would share an update of where our flood control project stands. Thank you to Gary Neumann for this detailed summary in response to a citizen question. Also, fun fact, the large sandy area behind the goverment center is known as “Neumann Beach.” In recent years we have made significant improvements on the Cascade Creek tributary.
Mark, You have asked that I provide a response. I will provide an overview of the two constructed components of the flood project and how these projects are monitored and maintained in compliance with any requests from the federal or state agencies.
There are two constructed components of the Rochester flood control project.
The Corps of Engineers/City of Rochester project works constructed the city. The federal government paid for roughly 75% of the project costs with the city of Rochester paying for the remaining 25%. City was involved throughout the design and construction of the project with the Corps of Engineers. The Corps designed and constructed the project with amenity input from the City.
City of Rochester under the supervision of the Mayor and city Council is the responsible party for maintaining the Rochester Corps of Engineers project. The maintenance of the project is the responsibility of the public works department and the Park and recreation Department. The project is regularly inspected by those departments and maintenance needs are provided for in the annual budget of the city which is reviewed annually by the Rochester City Council. As a Council knows the largest upcoming project will be the dredging of Silver Lake and the area behind the government center. The Corps project is also annually inspected by the Corps of Engineers and they provide detailed notes on anything that needs to be addressed. We are in communication with the Corps annually relating to the maintenance of the project Those recommendations from the Corps of Engineers plus items noted for maintenance or construction by either of the two city departments become work orders and are paid for out of the city flood control account and addressed. Public works department is responsible for the areas within the channel with Park and rec department responsible for the landscaping and maintenance above the channel area. There are two full time employees in the Park Department for the mowing and land maintenance. The public works department work is done via work orders. City annually spends about $500,000 maintaining components of the flood control project of which about 90% goes for the Corps of Engineers project, the funds come from the City flood control account.
The Soil Conservation Service now National Resource Conservation Service (federal agency) project. Seven reservoirs and Chester Woods Park were designed and constructed by the soil conservation service. Partner agency was and is the South Zumbro Watershed Joint Powers Board. The SZWJPB is comprised of the city of Rochester, Olmsted County, and the Olmsted County Soil and Water Conservation District. That body was responsible for acquiring lands easements and rights of way for the project, but the construction of the reservoirs was done by the SCS. Cost for the project was approximately 80% federal and 20% local. The local share the city paid 91.8% and the County pays for 8.2% of the cost. The board meets at least annually to review the maintenance and construction needs for the project which are generally pretty minimal. Project is annually, plus regularly, inspected by a team of the city public works department, Olmsted County public works, various Federal NRCS staff, plus the Rochester Park Recreation Department. The two city departments are responsible for the maintenance of work orders that result from the inspections. This project and all of the reservoirs is also annually inspected by the Minnesota Department of natural resources. They provide an inspection report which generally doesn’t have many items that need to be corrected to the local departments involved. Those maintenance needs are addressed through work orders.
When flood events are predicted and high rainfall is being experienced, the responsible city departments assemble in room 320 of City Hall and monitor the rainfall and the amount of water storage in the various reservoirs. The team of departments includes the EOC director, public works, city Parks and Recreation, sometimes County public works, Rochester public utilities, Rochester Park and recreation, Police Department, fire Department, city administration, oftentimes the Mayor and city Council President for emergency notifications or declarations if necessary, if needed city finance and city attorney office. We are also typically in communication with the County Sheriff’s Department and sometimes they are in attendance. It is a rare year we do not have to have that group gather at least once during the summer months for either forecast flood events or severe weather predicted tornadoes. For flooding events I know that this group assembled since the 2000’s, in 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2016 probably some other years that I don’t recall. This is been a good process for our emergency planning action strategy and Ken Jones, the EOC director has been a key player in having that process take place.
The Council recently in April of 2017 adopted new updated federal emergency management floodplain maps for the community as you are well aware. Which was about a 5 year process from start to finish. The maps were approved by the DNR and FEMA, which provided funding for the mapping process. The city is also in the process in reviewing potential additional floodplain regulations under the land development manual based on new higher rainfall data. I expect that discussion to occur no later than the first quarter of 2018.
The City continues to work annually with the federal and state agencies that are involved in both components of the flood control project and all input and comments that they provide on either construction items or process are addressed. The committees that worked on these projects throughout their construction and on-going maintenance have been the SZWJPB (SCS project) and the Rochester Mayor and City Council (Corps), which during construction had 3 Councilmembers serving as a subcommittee that was advisory body to the full Mayor and City Council.